Anthem MRX 700 A/V Receiver Page 2
While Anthem sells a separate iPod dock, I simply plugged in my iPod via a USB cable and did most of what I wanted, including shuffling tunes, while I viewed its contents on my big screen. Playlists were absent, but that’s a small sacrifice for simplicity.
Dolby Volume has two extremely useful feature sets for movies and TV programming. Without Dolby Leveling engaged, Dolby Volume makes dynamic frequency-response modifications at listening levels below reference level, where the human ear becomes less sensitive at the frequency extremes and subject to boredom. With Dolby Leveling engaged, advanced dynamic-range compression is employed to make loud passages quieter without making the frequency extremes sound muted. It also makes quiet passages louder, so you can still hear them. That’s all very good on paper, especially if you live in tight quarters (which I do not).
I left Dolby Volume disengaged for most of my testing. I found that what it offered did little to outweigh its faults. For starters, Dolby Leveling tries to remove the level differences between TV shows and the commercials that pay for them. At any setting short of off (and the MRX 700 ships with it set to one click below max), it produced audible pumping when I played any music that included a higher than normal level of hiss. Besides that, it just seemed to make everything louder, or more garish. Why hobble a thoroughbred?
The MRX 700 has seven channels of amplification. That used to mean back channels added to a standard 5.1 mix. However, Anthem has implemented Dolby Pro Logic IIz processing, so if you don’t want back surround channels, you can add two height speakers in the front of the room to give yourself a new and perhaps more effective surround experience. If extended surround in any flavor isn’t in the cards for you, you can use the two additional channels to feed a second zone in another room.
You can select Dolby Pro Logic IIx and DTS Neo:6, in their various guises, to supplement not just two-channel sources, but multichannel digital sources as well. A proprietary surround mode called Anthem Logic Music mixes some low-level sound into the surround channels (but not the center channel). It worked wonders with twochannel music. I found Anthem Logic Cinema less endearing. It was too aggressive in the surround channels and somewhat confused dialogue intelligibility up front.
You can apply Dolby Digital VS (Virtual Speaker) Wide or Reference modes to two-channel signals, Dolby Digital 5.1, or even high-resolution Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. The VS modes did a surprisingly effective job of creating rich, spacious sound with just two speakers while preserving dialogue intelligibility.
Anthem is first and foremost a serious audiophile-oriented company, so it has kindly dispensed with all the bathroom modes that you’ll find in bigger-selling brands. Gone are useless surround processing algorithms like Jazz Club and Church II. I’m just as affected as the next engineer when I see a digital signal processor chip standing on the side of the road holding up a sign that reads, “Will process sound for food,” but we must be strong.
Light Up or Leave Me Alone
Marching to a different drummer, Anthem’s room equalization is geared toward getting it right rather than getting it done fast. Unlike most AVRs with room equalization, you’ll need more than what comes in the box. Anthem Room Correction requires the use of a Windows computer, preferably a quiet laptop, with both a USB connection for the measuring microphone and a serial port for connecting to the RS-232 port on the back of the AVR. Like most modern laptops, mine lacks a serial connection, but you can get a quality USB-to-serial converter (also not included) for about $40, and this is what I used.